Labor Day here in the U.S. is on Monday… but gluttons that we are, many Americans tend to start celebrating sometime late on Friday. Keeping that in mind, I want to wish all of my U.S. followers a very happy, enjoyable, and peaceful Labor Day weekend.
Now with that said, I must confess that Labor Day is one of those holidays that has always confused me… mainly for its contradictory nature.
I mean on Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and gift them with the present of doing nothing all day (not that many mothers get away with actually using the gift). Father’s Day is the same way. We encourage fathers to do “their own thing” on their special day. The effects of most holidays coincide with the original purpose behind said holiday.
But not so Labor Day.
“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
Now, one would think from this description that workers should have the day off to relax and reap the rewards of the labor they’ve given to their employers and to society as a whole. And indeed, many employees do in fact have the day off. However, many of the hardest working people do not. On this day of celebrating their contribution to the world as we know it and to the workforce in general, they are instead forced to work.
Retail workers bear the brunt, just as they do at Thanksgiving and Christmas, given all of the sales that crop up on Labor Day. But they’re by no means the only ones. Military, police officers, firemen, food service, paramedics, convenience store workers, gas station attendants, all manner of hospital employees… to name a few. And yes, many of these good people are essential personnel and life is much better and much safer (for the rest of us) with them in their respective jobs, even on holidays, and God love them for it. Others not so much. Retail, food service, convenience stores, grocery stores… there’s no reason to not let these people enjoy a much deserved day off except… except… that it cuts into profit.
So when all is said and done, Labor Day has been turned into a perverse contradiction of its original meaning and rather than truly celebrating the worker, it has devolved into just another way to take advantage of those who cannot afford to lose their jobs by protesting a holiday shift.
Such is America.